As it is with every year, so do we move into 2024 in a month's time, leaving behind one of the most surprising years for Synology in a long time. Let's review the last twelve months in terms of new SOHO and small business hardware, software, and services.
2023, the year of the AMD
While Synology is known to stick with the same brand and architecture of the CPUs driving their hardware, it looks like the medal this time around goes to AMD. Synology has been using both Intel and various other ARM-based CPUs for a long time, but this past year (already starting in 2022), Synology upgraded and refreshed most of their mid to high-end range models with AMD Ryzen CPUs.
At the end of 2022, the new top 4-bay model was released as an upgrade to the current DS920+ at that time. The main change was that the new DS923+ came with a new AMD CPU giving it more power, as well as network options, but losing some features that most users of that particular model were accustomed to.
In the same footsteps followed the smaller 2-bay version, the DS723+. While both models got 10G optional network connectivity, and support up to 32GB of RAM, they also lost a commonly used hardware transcoding via Intels CPU QuickSync technology. This was no surprise as it was expected due to the fact that Synology started to move models to AMD already the year before this, but many were hoping it would not come to this.
What followed were several refresh models that were expected. To name a few, the DS223 is a Realtek-Docker-capable 2-bay unit, as well as an RS2423+, a 12-bay, 10G capable rack NAS.
Each presented model so far in 2023 would surely find its customer but the AMD shift was something that was still daunting as customers wanted also to have powerful and capable models without any sacrifices to existing services. While Synology was on a clear path to maximize the potential of this new CPU architecture, they also decided to throw in a first surprise of the year, a Synology Store.
The Store offers (depending on the location and country) many spare parts for older devices, routers, and new products that were presented later in the year as well as some older refurbished units for those who don't want the latest models or the fact they have to give up on some commodities that they were used to.
Following the release of DS923+/723+, a few months later another refreshed 4-bay NAS arrived. The DS423+ remained as an Intel-based model offering users to pick up where DS918+/DS920+ left off. This was a good sign for many as that meant that there is still hope that AMD will not take the complete portfolio with upcoming models.
Proprietary, new Synology mindset
Synology Plus Series HDDs and can update drives seamlessly from DiskStation Manager (DSM) on their Synology storage system, eliminating the need for third-party tools and disk removal for firmware updates
Just as the Synology store was a surprise back in February, March followed with another one. Synology rolled out their very own NAS-grade hard drives. These new HAT3300 models were their answer to the more expensive HAT5300 lineup of disks that many avoided due to their high price and the fact those were mostly targeted for the small business and enterprise NAS models. HAT3300 disks come in capacity from 4 to 12TB and are priced at almost the exact price as the competition. Offering live upgrades, and 100% compatibility with the rest of Synology hardware, this moment proves that the company is on a path to eventually close off to any 3rd party disk vendor. While no official information is present at this point in time, we can assume this will happen sometime in the future.
Mid-year was focused on several low-end devices that needed a refresh of their own as well as the presentation of new Synology cameras that were announced in December of 2022. The new BC500/TC500 are first in, what can be assumed, many PoE cameras that the company will roll out in the future. With no Surveillance Station license requirements and again, out-of-the-box compatibility, this new piece of hardware could also indicate certain restrictions in terms of future compatibility with the SVS platform should Synology roll out more models that are not just PoE dependet but also more WiFi friendly as well as somewhat cheaper.
"...The BC500 and TC500 are designed to integrate seamlessly with Surveillance Station"
"...Synology cameras do not require purchase or activation of Surveillance Station device licenses"
"Congratulations, it's a b...BeeDrive?!"
Just as the dust started to settle down from all the camera reviews and people were getting into the summer grove, Synology released one of its biggest new additions in many years. It's funny because it is only 43 gr in weight. A completely new category of device that, unlike all the current NAS units, this one was a pure DAS (direct attached storage) but with Synology's very own touch. The BeeDrive.
The BeeDrive is a 10G capable USB-C type NVMe drive that comes in 1 or 2TB (at the moment) capacity and is targeted at users that need a lot of fast storage regardless of where they are or what they are doing. While this is the first of its kind for Synology, it will not be the last, if nothing else, we can expect new models of the BeeDrive starting with higher capacity in 2024.
Personally, I was very satisfied with this device, and while I am not the right customer for it, the BeeDrive offers more than just fast storage thanks to the well-built software around it. It is obvious that Synology wanted a more capable DAS unit than the competition, and in my personal opinion, they did it.
BSM! Do you mean DSM? No, I mean BSM!
While some paid no attention to the BeeDrive, others couldn't stop talking about it, but as we come close to the end of the year so does Synology slow down with their releases.
Getting ready for the holidays is just as important as inventing and refreshing models, but the company was working really hard to catch the 2023 winter holiday season because of their final surprise of the year.
Before we get to it, it is worth mentioning the start of their Certified Refurbished program as well as the continued upgrade of their cloud-based metric and monitoring platform, Active Insight.
Here it is, the best for last. Well, we will see if it will be best, but it sure is another Bee bomb. Before the year was out, Synology pushed a brand new operating system called the BSM (BeeStationManager).
With the introduction of a new system, there is sure to be a new product, and this was uncovered inside the BSM PAT file. Just as BeeDrive is a new class of DAS, so will be the new BeeStation in the upcoming year. A new version of NAS device comes as an alternative for certain cloud solutions as well as a better solution for some existing competition devices out there.
While the BeeStation should have been ready for the 2023 holiday season, this is not the case, and it will see the light of day early in 2024. Regardless, considering how it is made, and who is it designed for, we can be sure it will be a success. The question is just how much, but time will tell.
There we have it. A short retrospective of some of the key milestones in 2023 as well as a few surprises along the way. As we can see, this was another big year for Synology with the introduction of the new hard drives, the BeeDrive, and the announcement of the upcoming BeeStation. On top of that, we have seen almost a dozen new devices both new and refreshed models as well as a new chapter with DSM 7.2.
Synology is on its own track that might not cater to everyone's taste, but the fact is that they are still the dominant NAS brand in the world, moving along strong and steady.